2016 Louisiana Young Heroes Banquet
Now in its 21st year, Louisiana Young Heroes celebrates the achievements of eight students who have overcome adversity, excelled in the classroom, and honorably served their communities. For the first time ever, LPB live-streamed festivities from Louisiana Young Heroes Day at 8:30AM. “We are excited to have this year’s Young Heroes banquet streaming live. This is certainly becoming a more popular option for viewers, especially for the younger crowd. We’ve suggested to all the Young Heroes’ hometown schools to host ‘watch parties.’ Hopefully, they will spread the word, and in future years this event will become more and more popular,” said Tom Waguespack, Chairman of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge’s Young Heroes Committee. For the last 20 years, the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge has been a co-presenter of the Louisiana Young Heroes awards with LPB. In the morning, watch as East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden spoke to the group and they received a number of surprises. Enjoy this recorded live web stream.
Dylan Alvarez has had to deal with loss too many times in his 17 years. When he was 8, his mother died. Six weeks later, his brother was killed in an automobile accident. Nine months later, his sister passed away. Dylan was taken to live with his biological father where he was neglected, abused, and virtually a prisoner in the house. When an older stepbrother realized the tragic circumstances, he slipped Dylan a phone so that he could call his mother’s brother who immediately brought the boy home with him. Dylan is now a leader in the classroom and is working to make his dream of becoming a broadcast journalist come true. He would like to use that platform to shed light on the abuse and neglect that millions of children endure each year.
16-year-old Alexis Bauer was born with High Functioning Cerebral Palsy and, as a small child, had seizures. Despite struggling with things that come easily to other children, Alexis has maintained a 4.0 average in school, while also being involved in a number of extracurricular activities, such as managing the school basketball team and working with a suicide prevention and awareness group. Alex spends many evenings helping out with one or more of her five younger siblings.
Peyton Cudd is a senior at Plainview High School now, but as a two-year-old, she was electrocuted when she bit into an electrical socket. She spent a month in a coma, and has had countless surgeries since to rebuild her mouth. In spite of her continual surgeries and physical differences, Peyton has risen to the top segment of her class. She is active in extracurricular activities such as student council, and Future Business Leaders of America, where she has served as President for the last two years. Peyton plans to become a neo-natal nurse so that she can help other youngsters in need.
17-year-old Madison “Maddie” Frugé suffered a traumatic brain injury while playing basketball four years ago. She has virtually no memory of her life before the accident, and had to relearn many things. When she was in the hospital, Maddie was saddened to see other children who had no visitors. That is when Maddie’s Gifts of Hope was formed. Through donations and fundraisers, Maddie has brought gifts to young patients in Children’s Hospital in New Orleans and St. Jude’s in Memphis. Maddie maintains excellent grades and is earning college credit while in high school. She is leader of the school Interact Club, was on the school’s Danceline team and played on the softball team, and was just elected District Governor of the Beta Club.
12th grader Collin King was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2014, but is more determined than ever to use his time and talents for the good of others. Passionate about volunteering, Collin is a mentor at Ruston High School and tutors Spanish-speaking students who are beginning to learn English. He has a cumulative 4.0 grade point average, is Ruston High’s “Student of the Year,” and has received the Lincoln Parish Academic Award all four years of High school.
18-year-old Katie LeBlanc was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and had six surgeries by the time she was six weeks old. Her physical limitations do not keep her from being active. Katie began dancing at the age of three, and has been playing wheelchair tennis since she was 12, lettering in tennis at Tara High School. In 2011, she competed in a triathlon. Katie volunteers with Woman Hospital’s Swim Strong program. She has been an altar server and volunteers at her church’s Parents Night Out for children with special needs. Katie is also an honor roll student, a member of BETA Society, a member of the school choir, and was on the homecoming court.
11th grader Marisa Mercer weighed one pound five ounces at birth. Her parents were told she would not survive, but if she did, she would be in a vegetative state. Marisa proved the doctors wrong. Despite major delays in reading and writing skills, Marisa has worked hard to succeed academically. She is an officer in FBLA, is a member of the Senior Beta Club, and serves on the Student Council. Marisa is also a 4-H Junior leader In December, she was awarded the Presidential Volunteer Service Awards Silver Medal for giving over 200 hours to her community through school, church, and club activities.
George Mogngode was born to an Ethiopian father in a refugee camp in Kenya. Both countries had excluding rules making George a citizen of neither. For most of his life, George traveled with his father and sister from camp to camp. There was not enough food or medical help. The three now live in Baton Rouge where George works hard at home and at school. He looks after his younger sister, and helps other refugees in his apartment complex by translating for them. George has joined a soccer team, and is a summer camp leader at his church. While George’s school requires 50 hours of community service, he logged 189 last year. George’s dream is to open a boarding school in Kenya for refugee children where they can be safe and attend school daily.